Before I get going a couple of quick items.
Firstly, thanks for your thanks for my first post but it really goes to Andy. He’s the one who built this blog and has sustained it through the years. The wonder is that he even gives the keys to this baby to our quarrelsome rabble. Secondly, I work on-call consequently, (as in this instance) my post may be a wee late. Sometimes it might just be on time though: stranger things have happened.
Stranger indeed, like for example a 1-3 home opening humbling at the hands of Aston Villa a survivor of last year’s relegation battle. It all began so well in fact, there was signing and chanting and colorful banners that said things like “You can’t buy class” and “In Arsene We Trust”. You could see that class and almost feel the trust six minutes later when Ox tore down the left and with the outside of his right foot found Giroud steaming down the slot with a perfectly executed ‘Rosicky’. The Frenchman slotted it home with robotic coolness. The crowd cooed “Giiiirrroooud” and sang “There’s only one Arséne”.
Who was to know that would be as good as it got? We made a few more chances but never converted, cooled off, lost focus and in just 15 minutes—with the help of the referee—things had gone quickly from good to bad. Not that Gabby Agbonglahor need the refs help to cruise by no less than four Arsenal defenders on the way to goal but for Anthony Taylor to play an advantage that really was and then pull it back to the penalty spot after that advantage was so plainly squandered was criminally wrong. Nevertheless we had been exposed at the back.
The real truth is the crowd turned. It turned instantly, utterly, savagely.
Four minutes later we were exposed on the bench as an inadvertent clash of heads claimed profusely bleeding left-back Kieran Gibbs. Now the murmurs begin. Perhaps we couldn’t buy class but purchasing another defender might have proved a prudent. “Not to worry” thought the banner-wavers, Arséne will get it straightened out at the half. However, the singing had stopped. The half would eventually come but before we got there we would be exposed again—this time in midfield—and this time it would prove decisive. When Oxlade Chamberlain went down the game descended from bad to ugly.
Santi Cazorla had never expected to play and it showed. 15 minutes after coming on for the Ox, Cazorla took a pass across his body from Wilshere with a first touch that might be charitably described as rugged. Charity it was for Agbonglahor who gathered it up, bolted for the box and won his second and equally undeserved penalty of the game.
What happens next for me is the story of the game. It’s not lax passes or poor touches. It isn’t even the almost bizarrely poor refereeing decisions, though only God knows what this man was thinking or even how he came to be in charge of anything much less a Premiership match. The real truth is the crowd turned. It turned instantly, utterly, savagely. No one hooted Cazorla nor blamed the penalized Koscielny; they went straight for Wenger. “Spend some ****ing money and “You don’t know what you’re doing” rained down for the balance of the match. Finally, we had been exposed where it really hurts, at the heart.
I don’t recall what game the fans started chanting these things last year except that it began earlier than the year before which in turn was earlier than the year before that. This was game one. Today Wenger is talking about a “response in Turkey”. This is window dressing. Any idea of a Champions League win against Fenerbahçe “righting” the ship or assuaging this anger is sheer idiocy. There is a deep and material distrust between a large portion of Goonerdom and the people who are running the club.
It is absolutely superfluous for me to recount the events of this and many previous summer transfer windows. You know all the stories. How much we have to spend, how we can’t find the right or “better” players than we have. I know no more the reason for our inability to bring in good players in good and proper time than you do. But I’m getting to the point where the reasons why mean little to me. I look around and see that our opponents find and sign good players (including the ones we want) while we cannot or will not.
We head to Turkey with a team decimated by injuries and suspensions. Perhaps no one can be blamed for them but someone must be held responsible for the lack of any cover whatsoever. It’s not good enough.